On June 12, 2016, a nightclub in Orlando, Florida witnessed a mass shooting killing 50 people and injuring 53. This was the highest numbers of deaths and injuries in a single shooting in American history. This is not the first mass shooting America has faced. It is not even the first one in the past decade. One of the most recent shooting prior to Orlando was in San Bernardino, California. in 2015; 14 people were killed. The Sandy Hook elementary school shooting took place in 2012; 27 people were killed. In 2009, the Fort Hood, Texas shooting saw 13 people killed that November day. In 2007, one of the most memorable shootings occurred at Virginia Tech University, 32 people killed.
These are only just a few of the many gun related disasters that have occurred on American soil. Since January, 133 mass shootings have already occurred. “76 days this year with mass shootings in the United States — and 88 days without. A total of 207 people have died in those incidents, including the known victims of the shooting this morning in Orlando.” So many lives have been lost needlessly due to the extremely easy access to guns and the proliferation of guns in the USA.
Whilst the perpetrators of each of the aforementioned activities have each had their own warped motives, the reason why they were able to take so many lives has boiled down to the absence of gun control. Could these horrific incidents have been prevented if more laws were in practice? Does it really matter in the end if gun control is more regulated? Or what if guns were banned all together, would that have stopped someone from committing a mass murder?
One country that banned the ownership and use of firearms was England. The Dunblane school massacre was one of the deadliest mass murders in UK history, when gunman Thomas Hamilton killed sixteen children and one teacher at Dunblane Primary School near Stirling, Scotland on 13 March 1996, before killing himself.
Public debate about the killings centered on gun control laws, including public petitions calling for a ban on private ownership of handguns and an official enquiry, the Cullen Report. In response to this debate, two new Firearms Acts were passed, which effectively made private ownership of handguns illegal in Great Britain. After the ban on handgun use in 1997, the UK initially had its ups and downs with gun violence. But one thing is certain, over the last 16 years there has been a massive drop in homicide with use of firearms in the UK.
Japan also has a ban on all firearms. In 2008 they only saw 11 firearm related deaths. That same year, America had experienced 12,000. Japan has basically eliminated guns as a cause of death.
Some countries simply have stricter rules on owning guns. France requires what many gun control lobbyists in the US want. Firearms applicants must have no criminal record and pass a background check that considers the reason for the gun purchase and evaluates the criminal, mental, and health records of the applicant. In 2012, France only 0.6 gun related homicides per 100,000 people. Compared to America’s 3.2 gun related homicides per 100,000 people that same year.
So what should America do? The answer seems obvious.
But there are many protests against stricter gun control and banning guns in the USA all together. Some of the reasons are:
Gun control laws do not deter crime; gun ownership deters crime.
States with the largest increases in gun ownership also have the largest drops in violent crimes… The effect on ‘shall-issue’ [concealed gun] laws on these crimes [where two or more people were killed] has been dramatic. When states passed these laws, the number of multiple-victim shootings declined by 84 percent.
Gun control laws infringe upon the right to self-defense and deny people a sense of safety.
According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), guns are used for self-defense 2.5 million times a year. The police cannot protect everyone all of the time. 61% of men and 56% of women surveyed by Pew Research said that stricter gun laws would “make it more difficult for people to protect their homes and families.”
Gun control laws will not prevent criminals from obtaining guns or breaking laws.
Of 62 mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and 2012, 49 of the shooters used legally obtained guns. Collectively, 143 guns were possessed by the killers with about 75% obtained legally.
Even with all the evidence of a lack of gun control aiding mass shootings, the decision to create stricter gun control or ban firearms is still seemingly an impossible task for the president and congress it seems. Many Americans still assert their right to bear firearms, and there is an apparent stubbornness from gun supporting lobbyists. With every gun related incident, the pro gun lobby reinforces the second amendment right for Americans to bear firearms. In reality, what can a lawmaker do without a national consensus for change in legislation? There is a persistent and urgent need for every American citizen to realize the need to protect the right to life over the right to bear firearms. Unless this self appraisal happens, the likelihood for further incidents such as those that occurred over the weekend will remain.
cover image credit: vox.com
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